Celtic Football Club
6th November 1887 was the day that Celtic Football Club began its illustrious life. Nicknamed ‘The Bhoys’, the club was formally constituted in St Mary’s street church in the Calton area of Glasgow. The original purpose was to help alleviate poverty in the area by raising funds. The first match was a ‘friendly’ match against Rangers, which Celtic won 5-2. Here lay the basis for a glittering history both in Scotland and on the continent.
A Famous Night
The event that wrote the Glasgow club into the record books was when, in 1967, the Bhoys overcame the odds to beat Inter Milan 2-1 to become the first British club to win the European Cup. The victory in the Estadio Nacional in Lisbon meant that Celtic were the first non-Latin club to win the illustrious competition. The converted European trophy was the preserve of Portuguese, Spanish and Italian clubs before Celtic re-wrote the record books.
Another remarkable fact about the famous victory was that the Celtic team was made up of entirely home-grown players, all born within 30 miles of the ground, a fact that is unprecedented in today’s climate. This is the only time in history this has been done in Europe, testifying to the remarkable achievement of the ‘Lisbon Lions’. The home-grown aspect has always been evident at the club, as shown by the fact it wasn’t until 1991, when Liam Brady was appointed as manager, that a manager had took charge of the club who wasn’t a former Celtic player. The outfit from Parkhead (or Celtic park as their ground is commonly known) finished runners-up in the competition three years later. They remain to this day the only Scottish side to reach the final of the premier European contest.
In 2003 Celtic reached the final of the UEFA Cup in Seville, only to lose in extra-time to Portuguese side FC Porto. Keeping up with the spending power of other European giants has meant that, in recent times, the Bhoys’ European adventures have been short-lived. However, the Glasgow side’s support remains as strong as any in Europe. It is said around 80,000 fans traveled to Seville for the final.
The Old Firm
Another aspect to the Scottish giants that makes them so appealing to football followers is the fierce rivalry they share with fellow Glasgow outfit Rangers. The Ibrox club’s supporters tend to be of Protestant belief, which clashes with the heavy Catholic links at Celtic Park.
This conflict has been accentuated by the political conflict in Northern Ireland in the past. However, peace has been restored, to an extent, in the country and both clubs are constantly taking action to try and quell any disorder.
A Successful Era
The most successful Celtic manager of all time, who many claim is the most successful manager in the world at any club ever, was Jock Stein. In his twelve years at the helm between 1965 and 1978, which excludes the 1975/76 season when he was recuperating from a major car crash, he won a total of 25 domestic trophies, picking up the league title ten times. The figure is bettered by Willie Maley, who won 30 domestic trophies, but this was when the club had first been formed, and faced little competition.
He won the Scottish title in his second season in charge, the first time the Glasgow club had clinched the championship in 12 seasons. However, what separates Stein, who passed away in 1985, from any of his predecessors was that he was at the helm when the Glasgow giants won the European Cup and for their other final appearance in 1970, with his team of home-grown players.
Other modern day managers have won more European honours, but spent massive amounts of money to bring the players in to do so, contrary to how Stein managed to his astounding fete. In the famous 1966/67 season, the Bhoys not only won the coveted European trophy, but won every competition they entered – Scottish League, Scottish Cup, League Cup, Glasgow Cup and the European Cup. The victory in Portugal capped the most glorious season in the club’s history.
Stein’s Celtic side also held the record for winning consecutive league titles. The Scottish Championship defence in 1974 was the ninth league crown in a row, a world record at the time.
The Bhoys hold several European records that still stand today. The clash between Celtic and Aberdeen in the 1937 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park, Glasgow is the record for a club match in European football, with an official attendance of a staggering 146,433. Also, the attendance in the European Cup semi-final versus Leeds United at Hampden Park in 1970 is the biggest attendance for a match in a European club competition, standing at 136,505.
Modern day Celtic Park has seen a mass influx of foreign players into the Scottish Premier League, and the Parkhead side have been no exception, with some more successful than others. Swede Henrik Larsson was voted the club’s all-time best foreign player, and is third in the club’s all-time top goalscoring chart, behind the great Bobby Lennox and James McGrory. However, he achieved his tally of 242 goals in just seven seasons with The Bhoys.
Modern Day Bhoys
Today, ex-Aberdeen and Scotland International Gordon Strachan is in charge at Celtic Park, looking to keep up their impressive record this century. The Glasgow giants have won five out the last seven SPL titles since the year 2000, and the Scotsman will be looking for his third consecutive Championship in charge of the club.
Celtic Football Club are respected throughout European football, and to this day are one of the biggest clubs on the continent. History alone writes the club into football folk-law, but there is so much more to the club. The records that they hold are a constant reminder of the role they have played over the years.
However, that famous season back in 1967 will mean that the Scottish giants remain in the history books for centuries to come. The incredible feat of winning the top European trophy with the team of home-grown players will almost certainly never be repeated, which will keep The Bhoys in the hearts of football followers all over the world.